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Certified Financial Examiner, CFE Certification: Details on Examination and Certification for Financial Examiners

Written by AnonymousAugust 31, 2011
"Certified Financial Examiner Certification"

If you’re looking to improve your career in accounting, obtaining an accounting certificate is an excellent first step. Accounting certifications can expand your accounting knowledge and increase your proficiency in a specific area of the accounting field.

Introduction to Certified Financial Examiner Certification

Financial examiners are responsible for reviewing a company, government agency, or individual’s tax returns to make sure they’re accurate and error-free, and include deductions and tax credits that reflect current tax laws.

A Certified Financial Examiner (CFE) is a finance professional who holds a CFE credential issued by the Society of Financial Examiners (SOFE), a group designed to measure proficiency in the standard practices of the profession. To become a CFE you must pass three comprehensive exams.

Earning your CFE certification:

  • Assures hiring firms that you have advanced training in and knowledge of financial examinations
  • May provide new opportunities for professional growth
  • Expands your financial examining knowledge and skill set
  • Increases your earning potential

Key Steps to Certified Financial Examiner Certification

In order to be eligible to earn a CFE credential, you must:

  • Either obtain your Accredited Financial Examiner (AFE) credential or commit to obtaining your AFE credential on the same day as (or before) earning your  CFE credential
  • Have successfully completed three semester hours of a management course from an accredited college or university (or its equivalent), as substantiated by either a certificate of completion or a transcript
  • Pass the three CFE examinations administered by SOFE
  • Be currently employed as an insurance department professional and have three consecutive years of work experience as a financial examiner or financial analyst

The two years of work experience required for the AFE designation count toward your CFE requirement, so you will only need one additional year.

Details of the Certified Financial Examiner Exams

To Become a CFE, you must pass three online exams, each consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions and lasting a total of three hours. The exams are administered every weekday during the months of January, April, July, and October.

Each test deals with a separate topic related to financial examination, with the content distributed as follows:

  • CFE Exam One: Examination methods and management
  • CFE Exam Two: Analysis and evaluation procedures
  • CFE Exam Three:  Reinsurance

Test results are delivered immediately after you finish. Sixty percent or more of the questions must be answered correctly to pass the exam.  In the event you do not pass and a retest is needed, you’re allowed to take the test over again within the same test month without paying an additional exam fee.

Each exam costs $150 for SOFE members and $200 for non-members as of 2011. Currently, SOFE doesn’t accept payments online, so you have the option of either paying over the phone or mailing a check.

Preparing for the Certified Financial Examiner Exams

Each CFE exam is based on information found in textbooks, all of which can be purchased online on the SOFE website or from other booksellers.

The content in CFE Exams One and Two is derived from the NAIC Examiner’s Handbook, published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Additionally, SOFE recommends preparing for CFE Exam Two by studying Property-Casualty Insurance Accounting, 8th Edition, published by the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association.

The CFE Exam Three focuses on information found in Reinsurance, edited by Robert W. Strain and published by the Strain Publishing Company.

Aside from these three key resources, SOFE has created study guides available for purchase on their website to aid CFE candidates with their exam preparation.

Maintaining the Certified Financial Examiner Designation

Maintaining your CFE designation requires that you earn a minimum of 120 continuing regulatory education (CRE) credit hours over a period of three years. At least 20 CREs must be earned each year.

In order to qualify, programs and courses must be directly related to financial reporting, or to the management, operation, or regulation of financial service providers. Some CRE activities approved by SOFE include:

  • Attending a SOFE meeting
  • Attending a professional society’s educational seminar
  • Attending SOFE’s annual Career Development Seminar
  • Publishing a technical article in SOFE’s Examiner magazine
  • Participating in a relevant college or university course

Each year, a SOFE representative randomly selects 20 percent of CFEs for audit in order to ensure that all CFEs are complying with their CRE requirements. Be sure to maintain documentation for every hour of CRE credit earned, otherwise your record will be adjusted to reflect only the hours you have proof of completing.

Governing Board Information

CFE certification is issued by:

The Society of Financial Examiners (SOFE)
2100 Sunset Hills Rd, Suite 130
Reston, VA 20190